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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

We welcome the fact that the Tánaiste, Deputy Fitzgerald, is coming before the House to address the issues that are so much in the public eye at the moment. Of course, she is well regarded and well respected in this House for her work as a Senator, a Deputy and a Minister, but there are questions to be answered. This matter goes to the fundamentals of justice in the State. That is, whether a person who acts in the public interest is protected or is persecuted by the State. The strategy of an Garda Síochána and those who were involved in Sergeant McCabe's case was to go after him. Their purpose was not to find the truth; they did not want the truth, they wanted to go after him. That was meant as a lesson to others who might speak up when there is wrongdoing in the force.
This gives rise to a problem for the State because if people who know the truth and who know that something is being done wrong and needs to be corrected do not speak out, then the wrong will continue. We have whistleblower legislation. Instead of protecting whistleblowers, it should be encouraging them. However, it does not do that. The message this affair sends from the State, the establishment and the permanent government is that people should not speak out. Those who do speak out will end up like Sergeant McCabe.
Hopefully, questions regarding the relevant email and who knew what and when will be answered, light will be shone upon this matter and we will find the truth. The fact that the Garda took an adversarial approach to the hearings, rather than trying to discover what actually happened to Sergeant McCabe, recalls the Spanish Inquisition. The Tánaiste stated in the Lower House that they were not adversarial hearings but were, rather, inquisitorial in nature. They were not. They were the equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition. A warped legal strategy was pursued by the Garda against Sergeant McCabe in order to silence him. That was wrong.
This is not just about Sergeant McCabe, however, it is also about people who know the truth. Unfortunately, when people do not speak out, issues such as those relating to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service arise. In that instance, 1,600 women were infected with hepatitis C. People knew what had happened but there were not consequences those who knew and did not act. For those who suppressed the truth and did not act, there were no consequences. If the Irish Blood Transfusion Service scandal happened today, nobody would go to prison. The Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2016, which would lead to people being put in prison and against which the Minister for Justice and Equality argued in this House, has still not been progressed. It is beyond belief that people who knew that women were being infected have not been prosecuted.
I am glad that the Tánaiste will be coming before the House later today. I have great respect for her. However, even the Taoiseach stated last night that Sergeant McCabe was wronged by the State on a number of occasions. The Taoiseach used the past tense. The email was only sent to the commission yesterday. This is ongoing persecution of a man who should be supported, protected - at the very least - and encouraged by the State. I thank the Leader of the House for organising the debate that will take place later. This matter goes to the fundamentals of how the State protects those who know the truth and speak out.